Matter of fact

I am an intellectual and cultural historian of early modern science. I am currently a recipient of a European Union Marie Curie Fellowship with Princeton University and the University of Venice, Ca’ Foscari (2021-2023). I am working with Anthony Grafton and Marco Sgarbi on a project titled “Antiquitates. Empirical Knowledge and Antiquarian Architecture in Sixteenth-Century Venice.”

From August 2017 to March 2021, I held a grant for a project titled “The Weight of Things. Quantification of Matter and the Exchange of Technical and Learned Knowledge in Early Modern Europe,” financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG). I ran this project at the Institute of Philosophy,  History of Literature, Science and Technology of Technische Universität, Berlin.

My work focuses on the origins and development of empiricism in early modern Europe. I am especially interested in practical knowledge and the history of experimentation (broadly conceived). I look at fields like natural philosophy, instrument making and material culture, and antiquarianism. I also have a strong interest in early modern England: notably, the early Stuart period and Francis Bacon.

I am originally from Italy. There, I studied Greek and Latin, history, and philosophy and got a B.Sc. in Physics. I also studied in England and the United States (Lancaster University, Imperial College, and Indiana University). I completed a Ph.D. in history and philosophy of science at Indiana University (2011, minor in Renaissance Studies), with a dissertation on Francis Bacon, experiment, and early Stuart culture. My supervisor at Indiana was Bill Newman.

Afterward, I was a fellow at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, a postdoctoral fellow at the Berlin Center for the History of Knowledge, and a senior research fellow at the Vossius Center for History of Humanities and Sciences (University of Amsterdam). I also worked for eight years in two leading digital history projects: The Chymistry of Isaac Newton and The Newton Project.

Recent work:

“The Early Modern Study of Ancient Measures in Comparative Perspective: A Preliminary Investigation.” In: Dmitri Levitin and Ian Maclean, eds., The Worlds of Knowledge and the Classical Tradition in the Early Modern Age: Comparative Approaches. Brill (2021)

Editor of The Exploration and Experimentation on the Weight and Density of Substances in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries, Special Issue of Early Science and Medicine 25.4 (2020)

Johannes Kepler and the Exploration of the Weight of Substances in the Long Sixteenth Century. Early Science and Medicine, 25.4 (2020)

Alchemy and the Electric Spirit in Isaac Newton’s General Scholium. in S. Ducheyne, S. Mandelbrote and S. Snobelen (eds.), Newton’s General Scholium After 300 Years. Brill (forthcoming, 2022)

Beyond Recipes. The Baconian Natural and Experimental Histories as an Epistemic Genre. Centaurus 62.3 (2020)